Saturday, October 26th, 2013
Dramatic double-OT win for the Wildcats
By Bruce Monnin
Minster's Ethan Wolf pulls down Versailles quarterback Nick Campbell for a sack. . .
MINSTER - Last year's game between Minster and Versailles featured the Wildcats holding on for dear life as the Tigers tried to run away with the game early before the Orange and Black rallied late for the win.
This year was a repeat as Minster survived numerous Versailles threats and then tied the score late to force overtime.
A touchdown pass to Ethan Wolf and an interception by Scott Sekas in the second overtime gave the Wildcats a 28-21 win over the Tigers. It is the first time Minster has won back-to-back games against Versailles since the 1959-1960 seasons.
Minster coach Geron Stokes was effusive in his praise for his seniors after this Senior Night game.
"Our seniors were unbelievable," said Stokes. "We've challenged them every day and they just continue to answer.
"That was a heavy-hitter fight," continued Stokes. "That was good football. I think everyone here enjoyed that game. What a great effort by Versailles but what a job by our seniors. I am very proud of our effort."
Minster was the first to threaten midway through the opening stanza. The Wildcats penetrated to Versailles' 34 yard line before a sack on fourth down resulted in a lost fumble. It was the only Wildcats' turnover in the game while they took the ball away from the Tigers three times later in the contest.
Versailles took advantage of the miscue by posting a 44-yard scoring drive. It was capped off when Nick Campbell found Damien Richard open for a 21-yard touchdown pass, giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
Minster immediately answered with a big play. From their own 31-yard line, the Wildcats' Josh Nixon heaved a deep pass toward A.J. Huelsman. A Versailles defender tipped the ball but Huelsman maintained his concentration, and pulled it in after a bobble or two, before outrunning the Tigers' defenders for a 69-yard touchdown.
Early in the second quarter, Versailles again drove into Minster territory, reaching the Wildcats' two-yard line. A Jacob Dues interception in the end zone ended that threat. The Tigers moved the pigskin across the midfield stripe one more time in the opening half, this time reaching Minster's 34-yard line. A deep throw was intercepted by Huelsman at the three-yard line and the Wildcats escaped into the locker room with the score still tied at 7-7.
The third quarter was a defensive struggle, with Versailles barely reaching Minster territory once while the Wildcats never threatened. Minster had the Tigers stopped one more time near midfield at the start of the fourth quarter but Richard gained five yards on a fake punt to keep the drive alive. After a 35-yard run by Kyle Dieringer, Campbell hit Zach Steinbrunner for a five-yard touchdown to give Versailles the lead at 14-7.
Once again, Minster immediately responded, thanks to a big play. Sam Dues broke free for a 51-yard run and the Wildcats were in business at the Tigers' 11-yard line. Three plays later, Nixon toted the ball in from 10 yards out to even the score at 14-14.
Versailles had one last chance for the win in regulation as it drove to Minster's 22-yard line. However, a sack by Hayden Schindler took the Tigers back to the 33-yard line. On fourth down, Campbell found a receiver open streaking toward the end zone but Paul Dues reached the receiver just after the ball arrived and knocked it loose with a hard hit to save the score and allow the game to go into overtime.
Versailles had the ball to start the first extra period and they made it look easy. A 15-yard pass to Mitchell Gigandet was followed by a five-yard touchdown run by Dieringer. Minster was once again forced to answer a Tiger score. Trusting their offensive line to get the job done, the Wildcats gave the ball to Sam Dues on four consecutive plays, the last of which was a three-yard touchdown to even the score at 21-21 and force a second overtime.
Minster started with the ball in the second overtime and looked to repeat its strategy from the previous extra period, as Dues ran the ball on first down for five yards. But on the next play, Ethan Wolf, who had not seen the ball since the first quarter, was wide open in the end zone as Versailles was expecting another run. Nixon floated a perfect pass to Wolf and Minster went ahead 28-21. As a bonus, Wolf set a new Minster record for most career receiving touchdowns with 15, breaking the old mark set by P.J. Seiter (1993-1995).
On the ensuing Tigers' possession, the Wildcats' defensive backs came through one last time. A throw to the end zone was tipped away from the receiver by a defender and Scott Sekas grabbed the interception to seal the dramatic Minster victory.
Sam Dues helped lead the way for Minster's offense with 109 yards rushing on 17 carries. The difference in the game, however, was the Minster defensive pressure on the Versailles quarterback, which resulted in five sacks and was a factor in the three interceptions.
The win gives Minster a 6-1 mark in MAC play. The only other time in school history that a team reached that record in the conference was in 1975.
Next Friday, Minster (6-3) will travel to face Delphos St. John's (5-4) with slim playoff hopes still on the line. Versailles (3-6) returns home to face St. Henry (3-6).